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James Brown

Lead Teacher

James Brown Headshot


By teaching precise asana technique, fluency in biomechanics, and the practical application of the Yoga Sutras, James presents asana as a way to make a happier life.

James started teaching in Washington, DC in 1996, where he was American University’s first Adjunct Professor of Yoga and the private teacher to the family of Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore while he was Vice President of the United States.

In 2001 he started teaching at YogaWorks’ original Montana Avenue studio under the close mentorship of Maty Ezraty. James helped developed YogaWorks’ acclaimed teacher training curriculum, which he then introduced in foreign markets. He was YogaWorks’ Director of Yoga Content until December 2012 and is the founder of American Yoga School.

In 2015, James published Words About Now: The Yoga Sutras for the Modern Practitioner and The Asana Guide for Yoga Teachers 2015, both available in the iBookstore.

A miracle workerW Magazine
The best yoga teacher in the world.Flea, The Red Hot Chili Peppers
A master of Ashtanga yoga … a guru for now Rolling Stone
2014-07-11 at 11-47-35 (1)

At YogaWorks Center for Yoga in Los Angeles. 2012

“I grew up in southern Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay in a big family with mostly girls. I started teaching while enlisted in the US Navy and loved it. I taught computing theory, not yoga- but I learned things about teaching (from the US Navy’s excellent Instructor Training School) that I still put to use every time I teach. After the Navy, I owned a maid service, ran a talent agency, ran a dance club and produced and promoted nightclub events before taking my first yoga class in my mid-20’s and finding something that stuck.

James Brown at Results the Gym, Washington, DC. 1998

At Results the Gym, Washington, DC. 1998

For the first three years that I taught yoga, I also had a job walking dogs. I didn’t plan it that way but, in hindsight, it was a great combo because the dog walking paid well enough and had a flexible enough schedule that I could learn to teach yoga without the pressure of expecting to pay all my bills with it. I started teaching full time in 1998 and kept at it until 2013.

With Tipper Gore in 2000

With Tipper Gore in 2000

At first I taught a lot of group classes and somehow a lot of famous people, which was interesting. When I toured teaching The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2000, they brought me to Los Angeles a lot. That was where I started to learn about my teacher, Maty, and when I met her, we connected right away. That is when I really started to study and practice a lot more seriously. After a few visits to LA with the band, and also for the 2000 Democratic Presidential Convention teaching the family of the candidate, I moved to LA permanently in 2001 after the election didn’t go my way.

I mentored with Maty starting right away, and I worked closely with her until she left YogaWorks and continue to learn from her. The practice I do and teach was learned almost entirely from her over years of intense close instruction and mentorship. In 2003, I assisted a teacher training that Maty was teaching and it was there that I felt like I really found my calling. I am fascinated by teaching! After that, Maty got me started as a teacher trainer.

Over the next 10 years, I taught about 24 YogaWorks teacher trainings and introduced their teacher training, now the world’s largest program, to other parts of North America, and to Asia and Australia. All that traveling around teaching yoga to different cultures showed me that we hadn’t quite yet figured out how to articulate the universals of yoga practice to audiences outside of the insular Southern California yoga culture. It became my burning need to remedy that and I wasn’t able to do it with a big pre-existing company like YogaWorks- so I started my own teacher training company in 2008.

And here we are.

Instead of teaching you what to say, I try to teach you everything you need to know so that you can make your own decisions. I don’t think that you are any less capable of handling that information, once you have it, than I am. So I treat my students like grown-ups and give them the tools they need to work creatively and effectively. The method I teach is to be independent and smart. Then you can decide what to do when you teach; and how and when to communicate it to students.

I lived in Los Angeles from 2001 until December, 2015. Now my home base is where I grew up, close to my family in Calvert County, Maryland- a wooded and hilly peninsula between the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay that still looks a lot like it did when the War of 1812 was fought and won here. I live in a log cabin with my two dogs, both of whom are named for the same person.”

James Brown 2009


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